Okay, you know that terrible feeling when you get the hiccups? Gosh, the hiccups make me so angry. I get them for a long period of time and they are violent.
I’ve tried all the things. Drinking water upside down, holding my breath… It’s Tyler’s favorite thing to try to scare them out of me. I’ve found one thing, though, that works every time. I’ve tried to look up the science behind it and I still don’t get it. The answer is peanut butter. My mom and both of my children have peanut allergies so I kind of hate saying it, but it’s just the truth. Somehow it slows your breath down. Or something.
Have you ever tried that holding your breath remedy? You take little sips of air and don’t exhale in between. I hate it so much. My lungs feel tight and my head feels like it’s going to blow and it never cures the hiccups for me.
I sat down to try to read a book yesterday and before I could even open it up, this picture of inhaling over and over came into my head. My brain was so full of words. I looked at the book and knew I didn’t have any more space.
It feels like I’ve been inhaling for two weeks. Holding my breath. Waiting.
I’m inhaling news. I’m inhaling technology. I’m inhaling the next change for our state and what it means. I’m inhaling resources for my kids. I’m inhaling ideas to keep our days creative. I’m inhaling recipes. I’m inhaling fresh new ways to do ministry during this time. I’m inhaling the heartbreaking situations of those around me.
And I’m just… holding it there. Over and over, trapping all of what life entails right now; the good and the bad – it’s just rushing in.
We hold our breath in the waiting. Unknowingly. Unintentionally. We’re afraid to move and unsure of what to do.
So to me and to anyone else who maybe feels like they’ve been breathing it all in:
It’s time to exhale.
It’s healthy to take deep breaths. But without the exhale, the inhale just doesn’t work. You’ve got to take it all in, and then find a way to get it out.
We are starving for information right now. We’re dying for peace. We’re searching for it anywhere we can find it.
The beauty and the magnitude of God is that He does both. He breathes into us and He also gives us a place to breathe it all out.
What does this actually look like? What does it mean to exhale?
- Pray. Duh. It sounds simple and like the churchy answer but it’s the only way. Vent to your God – all of the thoughts piling up and pressing in on each other in your head. Get them out. Give them to the One who is peace. Run to Jesus.
- Find a creative outlet. Journal, paint, make music, dance? I want to laugh out loud at that last one because it is one gift that God just did not give me. But whatever it is that feels like a physical exhale for you, do that. A lot.
- Reach out to your people. Don’t post your stuff on Instagram. Can I offer one more suggestion? Find a way to video chat your people. Right now we are in dire need of as much face to face connection as we can get. Texting is not going to cut it. We need to be looked at in our eyes and be told that we rare loved and that we will be okay. Allow your people to do that for you.
- Lastly, create space. It makes no difference that our schedules have slowed down. We can still make ourselves busy. So put your phone in another room or turn it off. Turn off Netflix. Find a way to get outside or simply just sit with no other agenda. Quit doing and just be.
So, sure, take in some deep breaths. But be sure to blow them out.
Let it out and let it go. It was never yours to hold.
“I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with His praise.
I live and breathe God; if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:
Join me in spreading the news, together let’s get the word out.
God met me more than halfway, He freed me from my anxious fears.
Look at Him, give Him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from Him.
God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray.
Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to Him.”
Psalm 34:2-8 [msg]